Art Gallery – Flower and butterfly kakemono

Many of my beloved friends and family members appreciate and encourage my kimono addiction, but when it comes to giving me gifts they openly admit they’re not comfortable buying kimono for me – either they’re unsure of where to start, they’re not familiar with sizing structures, or are just not familiar enough with my tastes or the specifics of what I want/need. This has led to a wonderful trend of people giving me gifts of artwork that are related, either directly or indirectly, to my passion for Japanese aesthetics.

I love all these pieces, and while I can’t really carry them around outside to share with the world like I do when I wear kimono out, I realized there’s nothing stopping me from sharing them with my wonderful readers who would probably appreciate them as much as I do.

This one is a gorgeous kakemono or kakejiku, a painted wall-scroll attached to a fabric backing, usually for hanging in an alcove in a traditional Japanese room. It was a gift from a dear family friend – I’m not entirely sure where he got it, I think it was found in a box while he was cleaning out his mother’s house. Wherever it’s from, it’s really lovely. The painting itself is a cascade of pink flowers and a tiny stylized butterfly. I often find depictions of butterflies a bit twee and frilly in Japanese art, but this one is sort of geometric and absolutely original, and fits perfectly with the stylized flowers.

I’m not sure if the painting itself is Japanese or Chinese in origin (a lot of these are also made for the Chinese export industry), but here is a close-up of the calligraphy on it – if anyone has any ideas what it might say I’d love to know.

I hope you enjoyed this odd little venture outside the specific realm of kimono, because there will be at least a few more of these to come in the near future!

Black synthetic multi-season flower komon

I know one of my kimono resolutions was not to buy things just because they were affordable and kind of cute, but I technically bid on this at the end of 2010, so I’m safe, right? Also, it’s exceptionally adorable and I did indeed get it for a steal. I’ve also resolved to wear kimono out of the house more frequently, so casual washable kimono are always a good thing to have.

When I bid on this I only noticed the big spider kiku and the sakura. I’m not generally a huge fan of sakura (strange, I know, considering my love for kimono and how frequent a motif they are) but I love spider kiku with a fierce passion – two of my favourite pieces of my collection feature them prominently. They’re what drew me to this kimono in the first place.

When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised – there are tons of flowers for all the awase (lined kimono) seasons – kiku, ume, and sakura, as well as the wavy stripes being bordered by decorative cords which are a lucky/auspicious motif. I thought they were just lines, based on the auction photos. This is much cooler!

Black multi-season komon



Kimono Resolutions for 2011

Good afternoon! Sorry for the lack of updates last week, things are still kind of hectic around here. Good news is that my eye is totally healed, so I am no longer a Kimono Pirate. I did keep the eyepatch though, it was too cool to throw out 😉

I haven’t had time to dress up or do much since last Monday, but earlier in the month I made a series of resolutions for 2011 relating to kimono and kitsuke and I’ve decided to post them here so I can keep track of them and then come back and review this post to see how I did. I’ve also added a few items and notes to my original list.

Kimono Resolutions for 2011

  • Finish more of my DIY projects. No more cutting things up unless I actually have the motivation to sew them!
  • Lose 15 lbs because my older kimono have gotten snug around the hips.
  • Wear kimono out more often. Stop looking for “reasons” and just wear one because I love them.
  • Stop buying things just because they’re “pretty cute” and “a good price” and focus more on buying things that are truly special and amazing.
  • Refinish the beautiful Art-Deco armoire I’m getting and use it for storage.
  • Catalogue and detail items as soon as I get them, rather than letting things pile up and then getting overwhelmed by having “too much to do!”

So far I have lost five pounds (thank you stomach flu?), gotten all the pieces I need to turn an old, damaged obi into a shiny new pre-tied one, and purchased one incredibly epic and special kimono that was absolutely worth the investment. It’s not in my grubby little hands yet, but you can rest assured that as soon as I get it, I will be posting about it. In the meantime, here’s a small teaser to tide you over.

So have you made any resolutions about kimono, or any other hobbies you may have? Do you think you will stick to them?

Late Bloomer

So today is Seijin no Hi (成人の日), or Coming of Age Day in Japan. Traditionally, it’s a day for young adults who have acheived the age of maturity, twenty, to celebrate. It’s traditional for young women to wear their brightest, most fun furisode (long-sleeved kimono), sort of as a way of saying goodbye to childish things. Once women get older and marry, they no longer wear this type of kimono, so for a lot of girls it’s the last “appropriate” time they’ll have to wear one.

This year, I will be turning thirty – not twenty. However, I also currently live with my folks (who are incredibly awesome people, and I will get to that again shortly), I work in a toy store, and aside from kimono I collect toys and comic books. It would not be a stretch to say that mentally, I have not really reached any reasonable level of maturity XD. So I figured I may as well bust out one of my furisode, since I rarely have the opportunity to wear them anyway. I chose to wear my mauve peony and bamboo furisode, since it’s beautiful and has special meaning to me – I bought it the first time I went to visit my best friend. I paired it up with my irridescent blue-green paving stone obi, and hot pink accessories. Oh, and an eyepatch. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I managed to use my mad coordination skills a week ago to scratch my cornea with a fork. Yes, you did read that right. And yes, it was as painful as you’d imagine. Thankfully it is getting better!

Botan Furisode

Botan Furisode

Now, to one of the many reasons I have awesome parents. I really wanted to try doing a furisode-appropriate musubi with this outfit, but I don’t own any tools to tie them on myself. My amazing dad offered to help me out, and using his magical engineer brain figured out how to tie a fukura suzume (chubby sparrow) knot in a few mere minutes. Unfortunately, this obi has no core and is incredibly floppy. The bow looked great as long as I stood perfectly still. As soon as I moved, it would just sort of collapse in on itself and look like it had melted. He tried several times, but through no fault of his it just wasn’t going to work. This obi is just too soft. In the end I decided to work with the floppiness and make a sort of a poofy bunko/chou-chou bow-style knot. I think all things considered, it turned out quite well.
Botan Furisode

Botan Furisode

I also decided to go a bit nuts with my footwear and layered some pinky-ivory lace tabi over some dark purple tabi. I really like how this looks.
Botan Furisode

Movies with kimono eye-candy

So, 2011 is off with a bang. I started the year with one of the worst bouts of stomach flu I’ve had in years. I couldn’t hold down food, at one point I was delirious with fever to the point where I was hallucinating. That finally dissipated and I was able to relax a bit and have some fun in kimono, which led to the outfit in the previous entry. Unfortunately, I let my guard down too soon. Last Monday we had some guests over and I suppose I got a bit too animated during dinner, because I managed to scratch my cornea with a heavy silver fork. Yes, that truly is as painful as you’d imagine. It’s also as hilarious as you’d imagine. You are welcome to laugh. At least I managed to make my eye patch pretty. It has pearls, rhinestones, and sakura on it!

In any case, it seems like the world is against me so far this year, and we’re only a week in. I’ve had several things I’ve wanted to write about, but I just don’t have the energy. My right eye is totally covered, and my left eye has to do all the work. My vision in my left eye is very weak, at best, so it tires very easily. However, I love you guys and rather than just not post anything until this nonsense is over, I thought I would share two movies I really enjoyed both for the content and the gorgeous, luscious kimono in them. These are not going to be in-depth reviews, just suggestions if you’re looking for something fun to watch and ogle costumes in.

Based on a comic book by Moyoco Anno, this is the story of a young girl who is sold to a pleasure house and works her way through the ranks to become the most popular and most desired oiran (courtesan) in Edo-era Yoshiwara. It is by no means historically accurate – first and foremost it’s a drama and romance. Visually, though, it is a stunning, breathtaking movie. It was translated incredibly well from comic framing to live-action, with the addition of vivid, borderline psychedelic colours. The kimono, of course, are to die for. There is a scene where the main character wears a zebra-striped obi that made me weak in the knees when I first saw it.

If you’re looking for a lush romp through sumptuous settings, by all means, check Sakuran out. However, please bear in mind that this is after all the story of a high-class prostitute so there are scenes of nudity and sexuality.

Sakuran on IMDB
Sakuran on Wikipedia

This movie is in a completely different vein. It’s a comedy set in modern-day Japan. Onizuka-san is a salaryman stuck in a dead-end job and his dream is to play drinking games with a maiko. When he gets transferred to Kyoto he goes through a rather ridiculous series of events in an effort to make his dream come true. While the slapstick aspects of Japanese comedy wear thin on my nerves at times, the movie does have some more serious and introspective moments that serve to break up the frivolity. And of course, since it takes place primarily in Gion, the geisha district of Kyoto, there are tons of beautiful, fierce kimono.

This movie, while still dealing with some mature themes, is probably a little more appropriate for a wider audience. Onizuka spends a fair bit of time in his undergarments, but that’s about the worst that happens.

Maiko-haaaan! on IMDB
Maiko-haaaan! on Wikipedia

Now, generally I do not actively encourage illegal acts, but neither of these movies have been distributed outside of Japan, and even if you were to purchase Japanese DVDs there is no guarantee they would work on your DVD player or computer, due to region codes. Currently, the best way to watch these movies is by downloading torrents off of a site like The Pirate Bay. However, if these are ever officially and legally released in your country of residence, I implore you to support the actors, directors, and of course the costume departments, by buying a legitimate copy.